Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We did it, Thank you Dave Ramsey!

In just a few months we have become debt free. And are on to our next baby step in his total money make over.

Thank you Dave!

Homeschooling with a baby/young ones in the home.

How do I homeschool with a toddler or a baby?
How do I homeschool with a preschool age child?
Should I send my preschooler to preschool outside the home so I can focus on my baby/or older child?

I see these asked quite often in the internet homeschool community.

We have homeschooled, as of this writing 6 years. So in that we've had 3 children and schooled not only during babyhood, toddlerhood and preschool years but also while moving, I think three times (all while pregnant as well, just to add a bit more fun to the whole experience of moving).

The best advice I've ever seen which can cover all the stages of concern, was an article shared by a Mother named Robin on the Sonlight forum. The article is called "The baby is the Lesson". I have a link to it in the right side of my blog Titled "Homeschooling With A Baby". It's a great reminder that we are setting examples for our older children in the way and manner we care for their younger siblings. Be it a baby who is fussing during "school time", a toddler who has ants in his or her pants or a preschooler who wants to be right in the thick of it.
My children have only been in the home for their schooling.
The thought of sending one of the younger kids to preschool would just never work for me. I could not imagine having my little ones outside the home and not being a part of our days. I also don't want to have to un-teach any bad habits they might have picked up. I like that I get to be the ones to teach them so many firsts and that I do not miss a moment. I'm home, I could not see a reason to send them outside the home, when I their mother am a full time stay at home mom.
These are just my thoughts mind you and only apply to me, not what is or is not right or should be done in another family.

So far for me the most challenging transition was when my son began walking. We were in a new home, still working out the best place to keep our school supplies and a good place to use as a sit down area for anything that needed a flat surface to write on (coloring, crafts, handwriting, a place for math blocks, a page of phonics). We were using a small kids table for the girls to have a writing surface, in the back of our long family room.
Once he began pulling up he would pull at their papers, books, toys, or anything else they were trying to do there. That definitely became quite a challenge as he was napping less and less and grabbing things more and more. I have never seen a child grab as much off a desk as he did with just one swing of his little newly toddling hand. After some thought I decided to just break for a bit. Instead of spending the time being annoyed or frustrated with his cute curious self, we just put a pause on all but my reading to the kids, and them just playing together. Nobody was any worse for wear from that, just some great family bonding time.
It's funny because today at 3, my son loves being in the school room (converted formal dining room to school room). He has his own workboxes. I have info on my blog about what types of things my son does in his boxes. He does no workbooks, just lots of hands on fun. And before any of that was in play, he just enjoyed sitting at the table with us, coloring, or playing with his toys.
I do think it's easy to train a 2 year old to play quietly using an indoor voice in the same room while schooling the other children. He's done it and continues to do so for over a year now.
My 10 month old, (unless she is napping) is in the mix with us as well. She stands next to my 3 year old and watches him do his workboxes or play with cars. Or she sits on the floor playing with her own toys.
I never did a playpen or playard with any of my kids. But opted to use one from time to time with her. She loves standing and dancing in that, yes she is always dancing when I'm playing music. I don't use it often, just times like when I'm in the kitchen cooking or cleaning up and can't watch her crawling around. I've not tried it in the school room but I might to see how it works out.

All this rambling to say. It is pretty easy to school with a young child or baby in the home. You might have to readjust your expectations for your older children. If they are all so young that they still need your help with everything then maybe cutting down bare bones and keeping it very simple might work best until they are more independent.

~Happy Homeschooling~

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wolves

These are one of my favorite animals. I have loved them since I was a child. We donate personally to charities to help the wolves and here is a neat link I found which I wanted to share on my blog.

Wildlife Adoption and Gift Center: Adopt a Wolf

(Disclaimer: I do not work for this organization, just liked the gift shop they offer where the proceeds go to a worthwhile charity)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How do you handle unsupportive family/friends?


This was a topic recently on the Sonlight forum I visit. It struck a cord with me so I thought I'd copy what I had shared there, with a few changes and share it here on my blog as well. 
Bear in mind that this is just one humble homeschooling Mom's feelings. But taking into account that it's my blog, I feel I can be as honest as I wish. 

I have not had to deal much with this personally. But I do not consult anyone else outside of my home for their opinion/approval. My opinion on our choice to homeschool is much like my choice in toothpaste. When I buy toothpaste, I don't consult anyone outside my house on what flavor I buy. So I feel the same about how I educate my kids. The only ones who need to be involved in that are my husband, myself and our children. Anyone else who chimes in and says "no way" is not of consequence and has no business involved in that decision anyway. (That might sound harsh, but seriously how I feel). 

I do think that despite family members being well meaning. Ultimately no one has the right to involve themselves in what my husband and I decide for our children as far as education and the vast array of other parenting decisions we make. I wouldn't call anyone asking them what color socks I should put on my kids, ask them what to feed them for breakfast or what bedtime story I should read to them that evening. So why would I ask them about education?
If you are the type of person who truly needs mass approval from friends and family, needs them to encourage you and cheer you on, it is possible that homeschooling is not going to work for you. Of course it's lovely to have friends and family be supportive. It's so great to share the joy of teaching your kids with others. But you do need to feel secure in your choice and be able to put the needs and desires of your immediate family above anyone else. 

I do have a very close family and have been very open with our homeschooling but I have never once opened the door for them to give me their opinion on if they thought I should or should not do it. They know me well enough to know that I research everything. With my paralegal background that is part of my nature. They also know that my husband and I are loving parents who decide what is best for our children and put them first. 
On my side of the family I do have an Aunt that was a public school principal and an Uncle who was a public school teacher. If they have had a negative opinion on our homeschooling, I've never heard a word of it, but again I would not entertain it if I did. 
On my husband's side of the family he had one former public school teacher who had an unfavorable opinion of homeschooling. We simply agreed to disagree. 

If my family were not supportive then we would put rules in place and there would be things that were off limits for them to address with us. This is something very personal, private and important for my husband and I. If it came to it, I would excuse people from our lives who were openly nasty and critical to us for our choices. There is no excuse to be nasty because we opt to raise our kids differently. I would never dream to be vocal with someone about how I think their child's hair should look, and to me education falls into the same context. If you ask someone for their opinion on either of those, then be prepared to hear their thoughts on what they think is the good and the bad. But if you don't open that door for them to dialog about it. You have eliminated the problem.
For those who are already dealing with this or new to homeschooling and worry about it. Or if you have those in your life who steamroll over you regardless of if you ask their opinion or not.
I would suggest your setting up rules for your family/friends:
Such as:
-You will not quiz my children. (There are types that just converse with the kids in a way to find out what you are not teaching them so they can tease your children about it, yes I've heard of this happening too often).
-You will not compare them to other children in the family.
-You will not say negative things about homeschooling, to my children or to me, EVER! If that happens, you will be asked to leave.
-You and I can agree to disagree but you will not be permitted to down our choice.
-If you wish to be involved in our family, you will not cross boundaries and involve yourselves in our personal family decisions (like toothpaste purchase, hair cut, what cut of meat I cook for dinner, what story I read the kids before bed or how we educate our children.)
If it comes down to it, some family members might make you feel you either cave to them badgering you (which should never be tolerated about anything, homeschooling or not) or putting your children and your choice first. Don't let anyone take this from you. Do not ever let other foolish people rob you and your family of an amazing experience. We have never had our children anywhere but home. I feel so lucky to be able to do that for our kids. And I have given them so much by educating them at home and they have given me so much in return. Homeschooling is one of the most rewarding jobs I could have chosen to take part in. There is so much of their lives I would miss and so much time they would miss together as a family if homeschooling was not our choice.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A great day of hands on science. And I guess you could say gym class as well.

Today we had one of those amazing homeschooling days. The kind of day where you and your husband look at each other and say. Thank God we homeschool. We had snow, which is not a norm for us. My 3 year old looked out the window at 7:30 this morning and said "Mommy it's snowing". I thought for sure he was joking. But sure enough we had snow. Huge flakes coming down. I grabbed the video camera and began taping.
We had a quick breakfast. Then I dressed the kids in triple layers to play in the snow. (we have had snow only once in the past 3 years so this was quite a huge deal for us). 
My husband got up after the kids went outside. The baby was sleeping, so we dressed (baby monitor in hand) and off we went to join the kids. We had an hour snowball fight. My little guy enjoyed tasting the snow and was tickled that he could catch those huge flakes. What a great real life day of science and gym we had. If the kids were in traditional school, they would not have been home to share in the fun with us. 
We felt so very lucky today to just enjoy fun together as a family.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

math games

I have created some math games for my girls to use, these are self checking sheets.







I made these sheets with them having the ability to do them in a self checking manner. Each answer has a message at the bottom, back or separate sheet. The girls thought they were a fun way to keep up with math facts. 


These sheets I printed from enchanted learning and MUS. I laminated them for them to reuse. The MUS pages have the answer key on the back. 




This is just a picture of our little guy and his baby sister.


Here he is working on a bolt board we made him for his workboxes.